Poor Ben Woods. He is a senior vice president at New Mexico State University, and he got the dirty job of signing his name to the stupidest letter ever from a university administration to its students, staff, faculty and taxpayers.
Instead of leveling with all those groups about why Barbara Couture was pushed out as NMSU's president -- with $453,000 in severance in her pocket -- the Board of Regents had Woods write a fairy tale.
Here are the first few paragraphs, all crafted as though the taxpaying public is made up of idiots or sycophants for the regents:
Dr. Barbara Couture has informed the NMSU Board of Regents that she has accepted a position as senior adviser for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. To prepare for this position and in recognition of her service as president, she has requested and has been granted an administrative leave through December 2012.
Dr. Couture will begin work for the APLU immediately while assisting the university with leadership transition; she will receive no salary from APLU while on leave.
The shady wording glosses over Couture's buyout, covered by New Mexico taxpayers.
The regents want to sanitize the dirty secret of why Couture is out the door with almost a half-million dollars of public money.
For that amount, Couture was willing to participate in the charade of what led to her ouster. Her self-serving statement, as quoted by Woods was this:
"I have great respect for this university and all of the people I have worked with at NMSU. My experience here over the last three years has convinced me of the importance of affecting policy at the national level so that colleges and universities can do a better job of assisting students through scholarship and loan programs. This will be the focus of my work as senior adviser for APLU.
"NMSU is a wonderful school; with improvements that we have made in faculty and staff wages and increased efficiency during tough times, I believe the university is well-positioned to move forward under new leadership. I thank the regents, my staff, the faculty and the state of New Mexico for the opportunity to serve."
What, no appreciation for the taxpayers who are covering the cost of your fat severance check?
Woods then blathered on with a kick to the taxpayers' collective solar plexus:
"Details of the resignation are considered a personnel issue and will not be discussed publicly."
Why the continued secrecy? The deal is done. Couture got her payout and is heading off to the land of deep-thinking bureaucrats.
Why can't the public know what she did wrong and if it cost them even more money?
The Board of Regents will move quickly to begin a search for the next president of NMSU and details will be released shortly. The board also plans to announce an interim president by mid-October.
Easy there. Quick work from these five regents might cost us several million dollars in severance packages during the next year or two.
The regents ought to confess to their mismanagement and resign in recognition of how fouled up Couture's presidency and departure were.
The chairman of the regents is Mike Cheney, a bank president. Would he squander money at his business the way he has at NMSU and still be running the show?
Another regent is Javier Gonzales, left, chairman of the state Democratic Party. The next time he wants to talk about open government, he should first disclose what led to the absurdities involved in Couture's ouster.
The regents and the legal team behind all the secrecy at NMSU have lost the public's trust.
When that bubble burst, they made Ben Woods spin the story as best he could.
Perhaps the regents are deluded enough to hope that some people will buy the fable that Woods offered.